IT projects are delivered late, 37pc of firms say

17 Nov 2009

There has been a reduced focus on improving project management capability, with Irish organisations ranking it last in a list of Top 10 IT priorities, a survey by Clarion Consulting suggests.

To mark the occasion of International Project Management Day, leading project management and IT consulting specialists Clarion Consulting today released the results of its annual survey into project-management practices in Irish organisations.

The report reveals a reduced focus on improving project management capability, with Irish organisations ranking it last in a list of Top 10 IT priorities.

While the growth of dedicated project-management offices has increased again this year, up to 63pc from 46pc in 2007, widespread inconsistencies in project-management practices remain.

Project delivery capability

One-third of organisations rate their project delivery capability as just satisfactory or poor, while 37pc admit that up to half of all projects are delivered late. Now in its third year, the survey was carried out online across public and private-sector organisations during July 2009.

“Many project-management practitioners display a fundamental lack of understanding of how project management can help business transformation,” comments Pat Millar, managing director, Clarion Consulting.

“While the bulk of organisations are focused on cost-cutting, business process re-engineering and new product or service introductions, they fail to see that these objectives can be achieved by applying the principles of project management. Project management can serve as a real driving force for organisational change in lean times and failure to invest in that capability can seriously hamper business transformation efforts,” he adds.

Completion sustained

There appears to be a sustained level of project completion over the last 12 months despite the economic downturn. More than half of all respondents, or 54pc, completed more than 21 projects in this time frame, a marginal decrease of just 3pc in 2008.

However, results also reveal an increase in the exclusive use of internal project managers over external ones, up to 46pc from 29pc in 2008.

This suggests that some companies at least are reducing their dependency on contract staff and hoping that existing permanent staff can sustain project delivery levels with fewer resources. Similarly, 17pc of companies reported an overall decrease in the number of project managers employed, compared to 2008.

The Ireland Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) welcomes the increasing adoption of project management offices to deliver more predictable project outcomes, up to 63pc from 46pc in 2007.

“There is a growing trend in best-practice affiliated companies to place continual emphasis on suitable governance models incorporating appropriate processes and methodologies,” Liam Dillon, president, Ireland Chapter (PMI), said.

Taking a risk

Half of all respondents “sometimes” use certified project management professionals on their project teams, revealing a risk of expertise and knowledge gaps. Millar believes that companies need to ensure that internal and external staff have the necessary skills and experience to successfully deliver positive project outcomes.

“Skills deficits can be effectively addressed by mentoring and coaching programs as well as traditional training to build internal expertise. With less experienced project managers, the role of the steering committee and project sponsor also needs to include more attention to governance and oversight.”

There has been a steady increase in the number of organisations using Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software, rising from 12pc in 2007 to 29pc in 2009. However, 37pc of organisations said they have no plans to introduce PPM in the short term while 50pc were unsure of their plans.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Pat Millar, managing director of Clarion Consulting.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years